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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

John Barry born 3 November 1933

John Barry Prendergast, OBE.  3 November 1933 – 30 January 2011) was an English composer and conductor of film music. He composed the scores for 11 of the James Bond films between 1963 and 1987, and also arranged and performed the "James Bond Theme" to the first film in the series, 1962's Dr. No. He wrote the scores to the award winning films Midnight Cowboy, Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa, as well as the theme for the British television cult series The Persuaders !, in a career spanning over 50 years. In 1999 he was appointed OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. 

John Barry's early years were heavily influenced by the cinema because his father owned and ran several theatres and cinemas in the North Of England. John began to take music seriously soon after beginning his attendance at St. Peter's public school in York. However, at the age of 15, he began studying music full time at York Minster under the tutelage of Dr. Francis Jackson, one of the foremost musicians in the city. 

Although John Barry's studies had been in classical music and the piano, he soon turned his attention to jazz and added the trumpet to the repertoire of instruments that he could play well. His first professional engagements were with a local band- The Modernaires, but these were punctuated by the call-up and national service. John Barry turned his time in the army into an opportunity to practice music and signed on for three years instead of the normal two in order to assure himself a place as a bandsman. John lost no time during his long spell in Cyprus to form an unofficial army jazz band among his official bandsmen colleagues. 

By the time that John Barry had been demobbed, the sale of 'popular music' on records in the UK had really taken off and 'rock and roll' was just about to happen. Within a few weeks of coming home John had formed his first 'seven' and had the ambition of breaking into the big time borrowing from the style of Bill Haley and The Comets. However, not only was John Barry a fine musician but he also had the drive necessary to get the band noticed.  

He had the wisdom to bring his group to the attention of the young rock and roll entrepreneur Jack Good who was looking for suitable musicians for his pioneering TV show 'Six-5 Special'. The 'seven' were initially turned down, because they were too close in sound to Six-5's resident band 'Don Lang and His Frantic Five'. However, within a few months the seven with an improved repertoire got their first appearance on the show. This led to their first chance to record- though their earliest efforts were not of great merit. 

John Barry soon realised that the older Bill Haley sound was giving way to a new guitar led sound, and he was fortunate to enlist the services of a first rate guitarist in Vic Flick. The group's early singles thus reflect the change from 'brass and sax' to a 'guitar and strings' dominated style. Although the John Barry Seven are rightly associated with superb instrumentals, it was in their role as backing
musicians that their greatest break came. The song 'What Do You Want' acquired from young songwriter Johnny Worth, John Barry's musical arrangements and Adam Faith's original rendition proved an irresistible combination. By the end of 1959 the John Barry Seven were at last regarded as an important force in British popular music. This had come through TV appearances, their own original instrumental recordings and finally with a characteristic backing on a UK #1. 

The strong character of the John Barry Seven's music at the time the 1960s began was due to the pizzicato string arrangements. That same formula was used on 'Hit and Miss', a Barry penned tune that was adopted by DJ David Jacobs to replace the previously used signature tune to his famous TV show 'Juke Box Jury'.

By this time, John Barry had the credibility, the experience and the resources to move on to fulfil his great ambition- that of providing music for the cinema. His list of successes in this field is too long to present here, but the most important included the 'James Bond Theme' which first appeared with 'Dr. No', and themes for 'The Ipcress Files', 'The Knack', 'Born Free', and 'Midnight Cowboy'. John continued to be successful in this field throughout the coming decades and has long been recognised as one of the greatest composers of music for the large screen.

The 70s saw Barry branching out in all musical directions, from stage to screen to television. Having enjoyed a successful West End run with the show Passion Flower Hotel in 1965, he collaborated with famed lyricist Alan Jay Lerner on the short-lived Lolita, My Love, then created a huge West End hit in 1974's Billy, starring Michael Crawford and co-written by long-time friend and lyricist Don Black.
Originally considered an "action" composer - largely on the basis of his famed James Bond scores - Barry began to shed that label with several richly romantic scores in the 70s and 80s, notably the Sean Connery-Audrey Hepburn Robin Hood tale Robin and Marian and the cult favourite Somewhere in Time, whose multiple cable TV showings turned the soundtrack into a gold-record hit. A steamy, jazz-inflected score for Body Heat followed, as did an expansive, moving and unforgettable score for Sydney Pollack's film Out of Africa, which won Barry his fourth Academy Award. He also won a Grammy and a Golden Globe for Out of Africa, and collected yet another Grammy for his music for Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club. 

A serious illness in 1988 led to a long recuperation period for the composer. He returned after a two-year hiatus with a complex and thrilling symphonic score for Kevin Costner's epic western Dances with Wolves, earning him a fifth Oscar and a fourth Grammy. In June 1999, John Barry was named an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his outstanding achievements in music. 

 Then, in October 1999, he was honoured at London's annual Music Industry Trust Dinner, a star-studded benefit that raised more than $200,000 for charity.  

Barry died of a heart attack on 30 January 2011 at his Oyster Bay home, aged 77. 

 (Info maily edited from 45rpm & Soundtrack Collector) 

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For John Barry Hits & Misses CD1 go here:

1. Va - 01 Adam Faith What Do You Want (1:38)
2. Va - 02 Johnny Gavott Cant Forget (1:40)
3. Va - 03 The John Barry Seven Hit & Miss (2:01)
4. Va - 04 The Five Dallas Boys Boston Tea Party (2:16)
5. Va - 05 Adam Faith Big Time (2:15)
6. Va - 06 Adam Faith Carve Up (1:51)
7. Va - 07 Danny Williams It Does.Nt Matter (1:54)
8. Va - 08 The John Barry Seven Walk Dont Run (2:14)
9. Va - 09 Adam Faith Greenfinger (2:05)
10. Va - 10 Russ Conway Pepe (2:17)
11. Va - 11 Russ Conway Matador From Trinidad (1:34)
12. Va - 12 Johnny De Little Not Guilty (2:08)
13. Va - 13 Gerry Dorsey Big Wheel (2:27)
14. Va - 14 Denis Lotis Where You Are (2:18)
15. Va - 15 Diz Disley D.Jangos Castle (2:23)
16. Va - 16 Adam Faith My Last Wish (2:08)
17. Va - 17 Anita Harris My One & Only (2:28)
18. Va - 18 Anita Harris I Hav.Nt Got You (2:04)
19. Va - 19 Micheal Angelo Roccos Theme (2:05)
20. Va - 20 Adam Faith Little Yellow Roses (3:35)
21. Va - 21 Bobby Shafto Over & Over (1:54)
22. Va - 22 Johnny Worth You Know What I Mean (2:05)
23. Va - 23 Johnny Worth All Them Things (2:30)
24. Va - 24 The John Barry Seven Cutty Sark (2:42)
25. Va - 25 Tony Rocco Stalemate (2:19)

For John Barry - The Collection - 40 Years of Film Music 2001 (4CD set) go here: